April 09, 2008
The idea is that one should eat and exercise according to the dietary and exercise conditions in which human beings evolved. The result is that you eat a lot of natural, unprocessed foods heavy in veggies and meats (People are omnivores!) and you exercise irregularly, though not infrequently, at a moderate level of exertion punctuated by spikes of "explosive" movements and exercises.
You have to read about it. A lot of it is very good sense and mirrors advice I've received from my trainer, doctors, and other such people. DeVany, of course, takes his principle to the extreme and as a 70 year old who does motorcross with a ROCKIN' body and a PhD in economics, he presents some strong anecdotal evidence to make his case.
First thing, I am skeptical by the article which introduces the general ideas behind Evolutionary Fitness if only because the article is presented without any footnotes or citations of scientific evidence to back his claims. It reads as a long stream of pseudoscientific assertions.
Monica has a post up right now that highlights another concern I have about this paleo-fitness reasoning. It's about people drinking milk. As strange as it may sound to you, people did not start drinking milk as adults until fairly recently in our evolutionary history and to this day there are people who cannot digest lactose. (People are generally able to digest milk as infants, but many outgrow that ability as they age.)
There is, of course, a lot of controversy about whether milk is even an appropriate food for adults, since only 30-40% of the world's population produces the lactase enzyme as adults. However, I have to question whether this is a valid basis for determining whether cow's milk is a species appropriate food for humans.I share Monica's concern.
DeVany seems to be one of these people who seems to reject milk as being bad for people on the grounds that people 40,000 years ago didn't drink it.
What makes 40,000 years ago so much more special than 10,000 years ago?
Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that whatever people evolved to do, then that is the right thing for them. Well, some people evolved to digest milk. So, doesn't it follow that milk is good for you as a human being who has evolved to digest it as an adult? By this thinking, it's the less evolved people who can't digest it who are REALLY screwed are the people who don't have the gene that allows them to produce this lactase enzyme.
This is my problem. I do not care what cave men did or where they get their car insurance. I just want the cheapest, best insurance coverage available for my car and my health and well being.
Nevertheless, I do have an open mind about this because I like the general form of the argument which he sums with the simple statement "be a good animal," so I am very tempted to buy his book and read all about it.
As for 10k vs. 40k years ago, I'm not sure I can say conclusively that 10 thousand years is not enough time to become adapted to a food, and I think that is what DeVany is trying to say. However, it should be recognized that 10,000 years is an evolutionary blip on the radar screen. (This is one of the best arguments I've seen for feeding dogs raw meat, bones and organs, despite the fact that they've probably been eating cooked scraps of meat and vegetables for a few thousand years.) I'm fairly convinced that most of the allergies and intolerances we are seeing in modern populations -- to milk, wheat, soy, peanuts, etc. are processing issues. We are simply not eating these foods the way they were traditionally processed, and 100-200 years is simply not long enough for people to get adapted to a new way of processing food. The fact that the western world gets along so well on foods that are radically different in processing techniques than were in place even hundreds of years ago is pretty remarkable...
That said, I do think that people are different based on their genetics, and we cannot simply apply one view of the Paleolithic diet to all of mankind. I do not think everyone in the world would do best on the diet of the Masaai, or the diet of the Inuit. However, there are commonalities to all diets where cultures attained optimum health: they were all much higher in fat soluble vitamins A and D and almost totally devoid of simple carbohydrates. I have started taking a teaspoon of high vitamin cod liver oil daily to make up for this deficiency (this is 5-10 times the USDA recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A and D!!!), and I have almost entirely cut out starch and sugar, and I feel incredible. Most of the current nutritional advice comes straight from government sponsored research and it's mostly wrong. I think we should be looking to evolution for the answer. But I agree with you that it's not as simple as just cutting out grains simply because grain cultivation is less than 10,000 years old. Some populations in Europe have attained optimum health on traditionally processed grains: in particular, the people of the Outer Hebrides (oats) and the Swiss (rye).
Please let us know what you think of his fitness program and whether it works for you if you decide to try it. I didn't realize his book was available!? I don't belong to a gym and the only way I could do this type of training on my legs is to join a gym. However, I plan on trying it with my arms and back for now: I just need to buy two more sets of weights that are slightly heavier. If I am happy with the result I will probably join a gym.
One thing is that I do not know how I would use that program to strengthen or build ab muscles. Right now I do Pilates and fitness ball workouts and am very happy with the workout my abs get with that. They are the best workouts I've found for abs. One of the commenters on my blog told me though, that whether your ab muscles show is a function of body weight/composition. I think that's probably true. I've always had very strong abs compared to friends but they've shown for maybe 1 year of my life when I weighed 30 pounds less than I do now and was starving myself. I would probably need to lose about 25 pounds for my abs to show again. My current goal is to lose 15 pounds. Who knows, maybe on this newer diet I will have no trouble attaining even greater weight loss.
Posted by: monica at April 09, 2008 02:38 PM (N2y8I)
I think if you read more on his blog you will see that he often cites scientific journals. (Not that that is necessarily evidence of good science, either.) I think the biggest strength of his advice, however, is not whether it's scientifically based in terms of being validated by modern scientific studies. The evolutionary argument is a strong one. Organisms don't evolve to eat or behave in a certain way if it's antithetical to their survival. (The use of reason itself was selected for by evolution.) If they do they go extinct.
Wow, that was a ramble. Anyway, I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on this evolutionary fitness stuff, if you have them. Check out Thrutch, he does something called CrossFit which is based on related principles. The guys who acted in "300" were trained on this method.
Oh, by the way, this whole thing that one needs meat represents a 180 degree change in my thoughts on nutrition the past several years. I used to be a big believer that one can get everything one needs from veggies and grains. That's true for amino acids, but not for vitamins. I've seen the error of my ways...
Posted by: monica at April 09, 2008 02:40 PM (N2y8I)
For the omnivore thing, I've been arguing with vegetarians for a long time. I know of no good reason to be a vegetarian and I've never known a vegetarian to be in the best of health.
And the whole vegetarian baby thing... Don't get me started. Don't EVEN get me started!
Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at April 09, 2008 02:58 PM (ErOeR)
Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at April 09, 2008 03:07 PM (ErOeR)
AND I don't know if his book is available. I guess not?
He talks about it sometimes like it exists, but then other times as if it will simply someday exist. I don't see it listed in his writings or any references to it directly, so I guess not.
Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at April 09, 2008 03:31 PM (ErOeR)
Yup. That's because most of the reasons have to do with animal rights or environmentalism -- aside from the fact that there are a few people who are just grossed out by meat -- and I think that's a valid reason -- no one should be expected to eat foods that they find gross, for whatever reason. It could easily be a texture thing. And then there are people who eat vegan for specific health reasons. This guy, an Objectivist, comes to mind -- so every time I rail against vegetarianism now I remember that there are rational exceptions...
I think lacto ovo vegetarianism can be healthy, if people must insist on the vegetarian thing. There might still be a vitamin B12 issue there, I'm not sure... I think most vegetarians take nutritional yeast for the B12 issue, but they are deluded into thinking they are getting enough vitamins A and D on a vegan diet. They are getting provitamin A (beta carotene), which is required in 4-6 times the amount of vitamin A in order to convert in the body to the recommended amount of vitamin A. Compound that with the fact that the USDA recommendations are WAY too low anyway (because they are wedded to the environmentalist idea that the world population must subsist on grains) and you have massive vitamin A deficiencies. I don't believe it is possible that a person can eat 40000 to 60000 IUs of beta carotene (provitamin A) per day to provide the amount of vitamin A that is correct: 10000 IUs for the average adult. Furthermore, the conversion of beta carotene to vitamin A depends on being healthy in the first place. Children and infants are very bad at converting beta carotene to vitamin A so it's even more important that they get foods high in it, not the precursor beta carotene. As for vitamin D, it is a myth that your body can make enough. You are not going to make enough unless you are sitting in the sun -- all day long -- in the tropics. It has to come from the diet. Most Americans eating meat aren't even getting enough vitamins A and D because they are not eating liver.
I have not met any vegetarians that look very healthy, myself. I think it's probably possible but probably requires adequate supplementation and knowledge, and most of them are probably just follow the traditional USDA, FDA advice on nutrition...the advice that says "Hey, if you're getting enough amino acids you're fine!" This is disastrous.
This is a really interesting website of a former vegetarian, converted to red meat eating. His story is pretty incredible.
Straying rather far from the topic of evolutionary fitness, sorry But this is a topic I can get worked up about, after being misled myself for many years....
Posted by: monica at April 09, 2008 05:49 PM (N2y8I)
I knew this guy in college who was a gymnast who would always argue with me about vegetarianism and it irritated me a lot. Mister Bookworm was also a vegetarian and that also irritated me. Neither of those guys were really as healthy as they could be and their vegetarianism was done for dumb reasons.
They're the people I have in mind when people talk about being a vegetarian.
For about six months in college, I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian myself. It was fueled by a particularly nauseating pizza commercial that was running at the time. The thought of that pizza (a meat-lovers pizza) with all its oil pooling on top still grosses me out.
And there are certainly people who may avoid meat for specific health reasons.
I never think about those cases when people bring up vegetarianism, though.
When people talk about being vegetarian, I usually picture hippies.
Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at April 09, 2008 07:06 PM (KApsF)
I read your entries. You said that you didn't know how these people measured "optimum" in their studies of the tribes, or what constituted "optimumness." I'd recommend discovering the answers to those questions, especially if we don't know whether this optimumness is better or worse than any given modern lifestyle. But in any case good luck in your experiments.
Posted by: Inspector at April 09, 2008 09:46 PM (t9VBy)
I didn't say I didn't know what the definition of optimum was in these studies. I just didn't list it here.
Optimum health was, as determined by Weston A Price in the 1930s in these studies I cite, a lack of physical degeneration. Lack of degenerative diseases (cancer, heart disease, diabetes), lack of skeletal deformities, and lack of cavities -- all of which were present even at that time in the United States. In fact, the poor condition of the American people in the late 20s, early 30s, led him on this 10 year worldwide search for the optimum diet. In all cultures attaining optimum health, the incidence of cavities was not more than 2%. For those people eating seafoods it was almost 0%. The highest incidence of cavities was amongst the Seminole Indians of Florida and the Swiss, 3-4%. (The Swiss were eating rye bread and cheese with meat only once per week. Most of the rest of the cultures had more meat.) These are people who had no concept of toothbrushes or oral hygiene.
For every native culture he studied in its primitive state, he studied the same racial stock that had gone onto modern foods. The difference was striking. Cavities and dental arch deformities increased to 20-50% in these groups. It's not genetic. You can read more about his studies here -- I've summarized them -- and I highly recommend the book.
As the proportion of plant foods increased, so did degeneration. A specific tribe he studied in Ethopia subsisted on almost solely on plant foods and the incidence of cavities was around 20%. That would be consistent with what Flibbert recently wrote about the Egyptians being stunted and in poor health...I believe the Egyptian diet was mostly grain based?
Posted by: Monica at April 10, 2008 12:30 AM (XwVF4)
I picture hippies too. But I do know a second vegan Objectivist...
You know, it's tough for people, even rational people, with the FDA's crazy recommendations, especially this nonsense that soy is good for you. Unless you have scores of hours to invest in research you'll just go with the flow of the low-fat advice coming from most health organizations that follow government. I'm telling you, if we got rid of the government control of medicine and food (I think it's even worse for food, honestly) that has been around for roughly 100 years now, and all the bogus research that comes from government and the trickle down to professional health associations, we'd probably all be living 5-10 years longer.
But you're right, meat pizza with its greasy mystery meat is nasty. Just give me a nice steak!!
Posted by: Monica at April 10, 2008 01:10 AM (XwVF4)
No, I did read that other article of yours as well.
What I mean is, how long did these optimum people live? Were they having less of these diseases because they were healthy or because of higher rates of mortality and the culling of weak individuals by ritual or harsh conditions? And if they were really healthy, could it have been because of their rate of exercise, rather than diet specifically? Could the rate of tooth decay have been solved by simply introducing regular toothbrushing along with carb-heavy foods? Do studies based on interned tribes who were forced to eat Government Canned Foodstufstm have any bearing on any particular modern supermarket diet? These are only a few examples of the kinds of questions that someone ought to ask when they hear a claim that a primitive tribe had "optimum" health.
Statistics can and have been manipulated over and over again to put Western Civilization in a bad light. For instance, the famous claim that socialized medicine is "healthier" than America. You would do well to be more careful and skeptical about these kinds of claims, especially when they fit the well-proven pattern of manipulative smears against capitalism and the West.
You've already discovered a number of these anti-western, anti-capitalistm, anti-technology lies. (global warming, anti-meatism, soy, etc) What I want is for you to take a step back and start to realize that they all fit a common pattern because they all happen for philosophical reasons. So the next time yet another nature and primitive-worshiping leftist charlatan steps off of the granola bus and comes knocking on your door, you'll bring your scientific and critical side out immediately, instead of eventually.
Posted by: Inspector at April 10, 2008 02:01 AM (t9VBy)
I've read your comments here as well as on your blog. You are correct that there are many leftist types that worship the primitive lifestyle including foods that are "natural" and unprocessed. These people are anti-man, anti-technology and anti-capitalism. However, not all the advocates of a "paleo" type diet are of this ilk. Whatever Art DeVany's flaws (libertarianism, among others); he does not advocate a diet based on Paleolithic man because of some sort primitivism worship. Mr. DeVany and others including Dr. Loren Cordain base many of their diet and fitness ideas on scientific research from an evolutionary perspective. I believe that this is a good frame of reference for discovering what man’s nutritional needs truly are. And as stated above, 10,000 years is a mere blip in the evolutionary process.
Both DeVany and Cordain acknowledge the tremendous benefit that agriculture and the production of grains brought to man. They are trying to adapt modern technology and foods to the diet they believe man evolved to eat – to mirror it as closely as possible utilizing the wonderful technology we have today. They don’t reject grains simply because they are processed by man. They reject them because the preliminary science indicates we don’t metabolize them well and they lead to inflammatory diseases. DeVany does not advocate moving backwards to a primitive lifestyle. He enjoys motorcycles, expensive automobiles and at one time had a very nice condo in Mexico.
I certainly agree that a healthy skepticism is needed when evaluating these folks, but I don’t think you can brush them all aside with a broad stroke. There is some good hard evidence that some of what these folks are advocating is true.RLK
Posted by: RLK at April 10, 2008 11:16 AM (lhJxs)
However, I have to second Monica's excellent response (#12). The evolutionary argument does ground itself in rational science. Devany and Cordain are basing their arguments on a good faith attempt to derive dietary and lifestyle principles from sound concepts of evolution and biology. As I understand it, the essence of the evolutionary argument is this: mankind spent millions of years developing certain metabolic pathways in the context of hunter/gatherer lifestyles eating certain foods and living at certain activity levels which provoked certain hormonal consequences. The modern diet is causing extremely high insulin levels that human beings never endured during eons of evolution. These high insulin levels seem to be at the base of the "Metabolic syndrome X" problem which leads to the "Diseases of Civilization" that Monica referred to.
Now I agree with Inspector that there is an individual component to nutrition in that human beings each have a unique makeup and can tolerate different foods differently. But I don't think the evolutionary template can be discounted so easily. So, yes, people should be aware of the bad premises that exist in the Paleo or natural foods movement. But there is also a large body of valid principles and useful dietary and lifestyle advice. Especially for Objectivists that can eliminate the anti-life nonsense and focus on the good stuff.
Posted by: B. Dietz at April 10, 2008 02:49 PM (jWCY6)
It was not Monica but RLK that left comment #12 which I agree with totally.
Posted by: B. Dietz at April 10, 2008 02:50 PM (jWCY6)
one day i see on tv that there is a scientific report that eggs are not good for you. then a few weeks later another comes out that eggs are good for you. i was confused then and i am not even bothered by it now.
my point here is, yes, we weren't drinking milk 40k years ago and people lived with no problems. but do keep in mind that the life expectancy is higher now than before. why is this? is it because of milk or any other products or exercise? well, who knows, i'm not a scientist. milk could or could not be part of the reason, but i wouldn't count it out completely
Posted by: roberto M at April 10, 2008 02:55 PM (OquT/)
And I can't eat PBJ or chocolate cake without a nice, frosty glass of whole milk.
So, I don't see it leaving my life completely any time soon.
Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at April 10, 2008 04:42 PM (ErOeR)
Well Flibby, that’s the beauty of being a free-willed human. You can do and eat whatever you want.
I’ll caution you however, that when you get past the ripe old age of 30 and start approaching 50 as I am, you begin to notice that diet is a critical part of your health. Now that thoughts of old age and death are occupying more sectors of my brain, I’m doing everything I can to be happy and healthy. I’ll tell ya, a diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts and seeds ain’t all bad. Maybe a little cheese every once in a while.
Oh, and one other thing – Should you ever decide to give up that PBJ and chocolate cake, you will lose your craving for them in about 45-60 days. Really!
Posted by: RLK at April 10, 2008 08:27 PM (0NVfK)
Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at April 10, 2008 08:59 PM (KApsF)
Thanks for reading my post.
Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't utterly dismiss most folks with one broad stroke. I'd just be very critical and cautious in accepting their claims. We can glean certain things from the evolutionary argument - it's just that they have a tendency to see the paleo life that man evolved to as being ideal, which I think is flawed thinking - we can and should seek to discover things which are more ideal.
Here is an example of what I mean. For instance, man did not evolve to need post-exercise glucose and electrolyte refueling. But does that mean he won't benefit from it? No of course not - that would require experimentation to see, and I've seen several experiments that show men can increase their endurance with it. But some people say that if the cavemen didn't have it, then we necessarily don't need it.
Which is wrong - that's my point. And of course my second point is that I hypothesize from observation there are different metabolic and physiological phenotypes, so there won't be a be-all-end-all ideal diet for everyone.
Posted by: Inspector at April 10, 2008 09:07 PM (t9VBy)
I agree and you are definitely right about the advocacy of many in the Paleo movement of the caveman lifestyle as ideal. Its another version of the "Noble Savage" concept.
RLK is right about food cravings. Give up any sugary or starchy food for 2-3 months and your cravings for that food will virtually disappear. Its an amazing phenomenon to live through.
Posted by: B. Dietz at April 10, 2008 10:20 PM (jWCY6)
Inspector, I see that your patronizing attitude has not changed over the few years that we have not had direct interaction. "You would do well to..." "You've already discovered..." Beyond that, a few years ago you accused me privately of spreading environmentalist ideas and of misleading youth on Objectivism Online. I haven't forgotten that and so I don't care to engage in any debate or further discussion with you, publicly or privately.
Posted by: monica at April 11, 2008 01:28 PM (XwVF4)
Too true. I made a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies for my boyfriend last night. Didn't even feel like eating one. I did eat one because when I thought I started eating it, I'd enjoy it. And "it's only one cookie." I actually didn't enjoy it. It seemed intensely sweet and I felt sick afterward. In a way, it was a liberating feeling.
But I think the question of what foods one chooses depends on many things, including a person's individual value hierarchy. Not everyone has exactly the same values and thus, our own choices, no matter how healthy they are, are not necessarily good for everyone else. Art DeVany looks incredible, but while I do have a desire to achieve better fitness, I don't desire to be a fitness guru with 8% body fat -- that's just not in my value hierarchy. Thus, my choices for eating and exercise will be slightly different than his. For most of us, there is a balance between the "eat to live" mentality of Art DeVany and the "live to eat" mentality of Fat Bastard. Both pleasure and health are part of life -- and are not always, or even most of the time, exclusive. But we will not all make the same choices even if we did all have the same information.
Posted by: monica at April 11, 2008 02:33 PM (XwVF4)
I just have to get through all my processed foods that I already have in my cabinets.
Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at April 11, 2008 03:02 PM (ErOeR)
“But I think the question of what foods one chooses depends on many things, including a person’s individual value hierarchy. Not everyone has exactly the same values and thus, our own choices, no matter how healthy they are, are not necessarily good for everyone else.”
I totally agree Monica. I’ve been following a diet pretty close to “Paleo” for over 3 years now. The reason for this is because I had some chronic health issues that required me to take drugs with such frequency that I knew it wasn’t good for me. Even my doctors cautioned me about them, but they had no other solution. After 3 surgeries and years of medications, I decided that was enough, time to go alternative. Mainstream medicine wasn’t going to fix me. Just the elimination of grains and refined sugars had me off the drugs within 3 months. An added bonus was the loss of 35lbs. I can’t even express how much better I feel today. I realize this worked great for me, but others may not have the same results.
But I’m not a purist. For my birthday last November my wife and I celebrated with dinner at a wonderful French restaurant. I ate bread and a sugary dessert! I’ll even have a Mexican dinner full of cheeses and corn once every 2 months or so. It’s not going to jeopardize my health and as long as the daily cravings for those things don’t return, I’m fine. I truly look at this way of eating as a lifestyle, not a dreaded diet to jettison as soon as heath returns or weight is lost. There is no way I’m going back. I see consequences all too clearly.
BTW Monica, I believe I’m the one that steered you to Art’s site through a comment on your blog. I’m glad you’ve found value there. Best wishes on discovering the diet that’s best for you.
Posted by: RLK at April 11, 2008 03:40 PM (lhJxs)
You're saying that like that's not what I said, whereas I did say that. But your statement seems to ignore the essential prejudice that I've identified.
"Inspector, I see that your patronizing attitude has not changed"
Nor your stubbornness, I see.
"Beyond that, a few years ago you accused me privately of spreading environmentalist ideas and of misleading youth on Objectivism Online."
You were advocating anthropogenic global warming, among other things, so of course I accused you of that. I had hoped that after realizing your error, as you since have, you'd have a different attitude.
But I see you're still intent on pursuing every single environmentalist fad you can find. Thing is, I see that the scientist is slowly prevailing in you as you reject each of these nonsenses one by one (global warming, anti-meat, anti-milk, the soy craze, self-identifying as an "environmentalist," etc).
Well, all I can say is: good luck with that. And you'll probably still think of me as a killjoy or as condescending even when you've come to agree with every single last point we'd disagreed on. Whatever floats your boat, I guess. I'm not here to be liked.
Posted by: Inspector at April 11, 2008 05:11 PM (2/vU5)
I can't see why. It's not like you're exactly Mr. Chubsy-Ubsy or anything. But I'm telling this to a guy who goes through caffeine withdraw on a weekly basis - on purpose - just for giggles.
Posted by: Inspector at April 11, 2008 05:18 PM (2/vU5)
The reason I would try it is to see if I feel better like RLK said he does and to bring more attention to what I'm eating on a daily basis.
And do stop fussing with Monica. I understand that you're not here to make friends, but presumably you are here to spread good ideas. This sort of squabbling is unpleasant and closes people's eyes to the good ideas you have to share.
It is one of the great pleasures in life to find the truth of things and I find it to be as satisfying, if not moreso, to change my mind for the better. It does sadden me to see you use that process to snark at someone.
I enjoy different things about the both of you -- not the least of which is the passion you both bring to your arguments.
On this topic, I don't see that the two of you actually disagree about anything.
Inspector, you're advocating a rational approach to diet. That's what Monica is advocating as well. Neither of you (or even me or -- as I see it -- DeVany for that matter) is proposing shutting off our minds and adopting the lifestyle of a caveman. Inspector, you pointed out a good counter-example to the "paleo-purist" view with the post-exercise glucose/electrolyte thing. Monica has provided similar counter arguments to that mindset in her recent discussion on milk, which I cited in my blog post.
Neither of you expects a person to simply accept an argument without evidence, so you have to allow people time to do their own research and integrate the facts they glean.
Neither of you is willing to accept the paleo-diet argument without skepticism and neither am I. DeVany also rejects such an eyes-closed approach -- even if he does have the wrong idea on some points.
So, please stop with the fussing and grant one another some benefit of the doubt. Or don't. Just don't do that here.
Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at April 11, 2008 09:41 PM (KApsF)
Really, I have the best of intentions toward Monica even if I did offend her in the past - or continue to do so apparently. I hope she can see beyond that offense to the fact that she does now agree with what I had to say back then. So why not give what I have to say now a chance, too?
If not, that's her prerogative and like I said, I'm here to tell the truth and not specifically to make friends. If you're going to get mad at me for correcting you and hold that grudge even after you see my point, then go ahead. Hate me all day, so long as I've said the truth that's all that matters to me.
But I'm not trying to cause a fuss for its own sake. So do please excuse my part in this. I admit to the snark, but it is out of frustration at Monica for continuing to be overgenerous with what for simplicity's sake I will call "the granola crowd." Not because I bear her any ill will.
Of course I stand by the points I've made, which I'll summarize as follows in a hopefully snark-free way:
1) The paleo premise is flawed
2) While the particular folks mentioned here don't take it as far as advocating living in caves (and I never said they did), they do use it to make bad assumptions like my example with Gatorade.
3) There are likely plenty of other faulty ideas lurking with these people - it's natural that there would be, since flawed premises lead to bad conclusions.
4) Given #3, then my advice to Monica is: people with such bad premises are not the best of sources for nutritional (or other kinds of) advice. But if you must look for goodness in people and movements who have anti-technology, anti-civilization, and/or anti-man premises, then do please be more careful and less willing to assume they're right on so many points. They've proven wrong for you enough times in the past that I hope you'll see the pattern and look at them differently in the future.
There. Snark-free I hope, Flib?
Posted by: Inspector at April 12, 2008 02:36 AM (w30y5)
heh heh heh...
Well, chuckling aside, I agree with you and I think Monica would, too: one does need to approach arguments with a strict scientific mind and by that I mean that one needs to examine the evidence carefully and draw one's own conclusions. And if a particular argument comes from people who are obviously out of their damn minds, well, one should be extra 'specially cautious if one pays any mind to what they're saying at all.
Gatorade is another thing I have a hard time staying away from. It's like crack!
Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at April 12, 2008 07:32 AM (KApsF)
"heh heh heh..."
But, all kidding aside, it's not primarily a matter of the particulars, which anyone with a rigorous mind will eventually root out (as Monica has been doing). It's more a matter of the philosophic meta-argument. Are these people a good place to be looking for ideas and theories at all? Monica's articles read like these people are basically good, with a scattered few unfortunate ideas that can be safely ignored after the standard disclaimer against environmentalism. But they're not - as you said, they're fundamentally flawed in their thinking, with good ideas being scattered and few.
Ideas such as "raw foods," "whole foods," "organic foods," "veganism," "conservation," "sustainability," "peak oil," "noble savages," and all the rest of their ilk are not isolated concepts, each existing separately in a vacuum. They are all part of a common family of ideas which are environmentalist in origin.
Monica recognizes that environmentalism is bad. I know that. But I just don't get the sense that she's grasped the full extent of the thing. Environmentalism is not just bad. It is, to borrow a phrase, apocalyptically bad and it is waging a war on mankind through the propagation of these horrible, corrupting ideas. It is not limited to an isolated few nutbars, but is a widespread propaganda juggernaut that permeates the scientific, popular, business, and just about all other communities. Its premises are ubiquitous and largely unquestioned and people are starting to act on those premises on an alarming and unprecedented scale. To treat this environmentalist family of ideas as anything less than a hostile enemy is a bit like fiddling while Rome burns.
Now, consider that I have the above in mind as I read Monica's blog and saw that it details her interest in and exploration of environmentalist field after environmentalist field. Now maybe that's just because the circles she travels in, given her profession, are constantly bombarding her with them. And to her credit, she's trying to hit the right side of things, and mostly does.
But my objection to Monica's approach is that she seems to be looking at all of these fields in isolation, testing each of them independently of the others and earnestly expecting every time for things to be basically good and sensible. But they aren't isolated, they're connected (with this paleo business being on their periphery) - and I'm looking for her to draw that connection and indict the whole philosophic category of environmentalist ideas with the full disgust and hatred that it deserves. (like, for example, the level of disgust, hatred, and categorical rejection that she gives to religion on her blog)
Then, after that proper understanding and corollary indictment is reached, I'd be a lot more comfortable with approaching individual subjects and trying to pick out any isolated merits that might exist.
I definitely want to give nothing but kudos to Monica's scientific approach. Good show, there, certainly. But a scientific approach isn't enough - because science is guided by philosophy.
And Flib - thank you for your part in this - I've really been able to articulate what I've wanted to say.
Posted by: Inspector at April 12, 2008 10:29 AM (w30y5)
And on this I think we do all certainly agree even if we don't always dig into the philosophy when going over these things. That is one of the most fundamentally attractive about Objectivism as a unifying philosophy for life. It always boils down to ideas.
Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at April 12, 2008 11:41 AM (KApsF)
"But I think the question of what foods one chooses depends on many things, including a person's individual value hierarchy. Not everyone has exactly the same values and thus, our own choices, no matter how healthy they are, are not necessarily good for everyone else. Art DeVany looks incredible, but while I do have a desire to achieve better fitness, I don't desire to be a fitness guru with 8% body fat -- that's just not in my value hierarchy."
This is an excellent statement. Value heirarchy is a crucial component to diet and nutrition. The Paleo diet has alot going for it, but if a person valued different food choices and placed the enjoyment of certain foods as a high priority, I would never hold it against them as many in the Paleo movement do.
"The paleo premise is flawed."
It depends what is meant by this. I think the Paleo premise applied to nutrition is true; namely to find species appropriate dietary principles in line with the human evolutionary past. Also, the idea of taking into account the hormonal consequences to food is a sound one. Foods which cause hormonal imbalance or damage are not conducive to long term health and the hormonal reactions to food is in large part connected to man's evolutionary history with the all of the various foods. (Crucial here is the effects of food and specifically refined carbohydrate on insulin levels which simply can not be ignored.)
There is much that is of value in the Paleo (and low-carb) nutritional movement(s) even though I agree it has been corrupted by anti-capitalist and environmentalist ideas.
Posted by: B. Dietz at April 12, 2008 09:45 PM (jWCY6)
Not merely that the diet of a caveman is "good for you" but that it is the best for you.
And, to be sure, if that is how we state that argument, then I reject it out of hand.
Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at April 13, 2008 12:09 AM (KApsF)
If you agree with Darwin’s general ideas on evolution and understand that Paleolithic Man is the most recent iteration of man after many hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, then logically you can see that our current nutritional requirements are the result of that evolutionary process.
Recent scientific studies (and some older than 50 years) indicate that man’s nutritional requirements are best met through a diet that consists of primarily meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and that diets rich in grains and sugars leads to heart disease, obesity, diabetes and inflammation diseases. Many of these studies were not performed by those with an environmentalist or “caveman” agenda. If fact, some set out to prove the opposite of what they discovered.
Much of this research ends up supporting is a diet very similar to what our paleo ancestors ate But of course, that is what we evolved to eat. The evolutionary process adapted man physiologically to his environment.
I can’t find the exact quote, but Ayn Rand made a statement to the effect - If it can be objectively proven that a land owner is creating a type of pollution that extends beyond his property and is harmful to others then the law can hold him responsible.
What Ayn Rand quietly acknowledges here is that there can be pollution that is harmful yet she totally rejects environmentalism as a movement, and rightly so. The same type of situation exists here. There is real objective evidence that a paleo type diet is best for long term health.
You can reject environmentalism as a movement and still accept that there are some objectively proven pollution threats to man. You can reject the paleo movement and still accept that there is some objective science supporting a paleo type diet.
Posted by: RLK at April 13, 2008 08:42 AM (0NVfK)
Yes, RLK, it is possible that objective science can show that a paleo type diet is superior to one with more grains. That isn't the point.
The point is that the very fact of evolution doesn't make this necessarily so. There are plenty of creatures which flourish outside of the conditions that they evolutionarily adapted to on a level far exceeding their original habitat. Neither man nor his diet should be an exception to this. (and, if you consider it, clearly he isn't!)
Posted by: Inspector at April 13, 2008 05:40 PM (Ylu73)
“The point is that the very fact of evolution doesn’t make this necessarily so.”
Perhaps Inspector, we are not as far apart as I thought. I agree with your statement above. Humans have clearly flourished outside the cave, fabulously so. We didn’t evolve to sit in cushy chairs in an office on the top floor of a skyscraper, but obviously these types of things have been good for man. But you see, the reverse is also not necessarily so. Just because we take action outside of evolutionary adaptations, it doesn’t make for automatic flourishing. And that is my point. There are actions we take that move us too far outside what we evolved to do and it can cause health problems.
This whole discussion boils down to this: Can the scientific study of man’s evolutionary development and adaptation to his environment provide key information about his nutritional and fitness needs? I believe it can, although it certainly is not the only approach nor should it be. Unfortunately, there is a “movement” associated with this approach run mostly by a bunch of crackpots and it’s labeled “paleo.”
Posted by: RLK at April 14, 2008 10:30 AM (lhJxs)
Right, exactly. And unfortunately many people in that movement operate under the implicit assumption that paleo conditions are necessarily the best for man. Even, sometimes, the more scientific people operate under this assumption.
And of course, it doesn't help that what exactly those conditions in fact were is not exactly uncontroversial. But that's a whole other can of worms.
And finally, there is the problem that their assumption seems to rest on the idea that there was a single set of physiological adaptations in place, as opposed to my multiple phenotype hypothesis.
Posted by: Inspector at April 14, 2008 06:00 PM (YazLx)
Posted by: monica at April 17, 2008 06:22 PM (/DvpO)
Furthermore, if you do intend rebuttal, then be sure not to commit what you accuse me of - take care in your response to only reply to what I have actually said.
For your reference, here are the only things which I have actually said about you in the "above" that you refer to as misrepresenting your opinions, thought processes, premises, and philosophy:
"...Monica has been [rooting out bad ideas]..."
"Monica's articles read [to me] like [people in these environmentalist-related movements] are basically good, with a scattered few unfortunate ideas that can be safely ignored after the standard disclaimer against environmentalism."
"Monica recognizes that environmentalism is bad. I know that. But I just don't get the sense [from reading her writings] that she's grasped the full extent of the thing."
"I read Monica's blog and saw that it details her interest in and exploration of environmentalist [related] field after environmentalist [related] field. Now maybe that's just because the circles she travels in, given her profession, are constantly bombarding her with them. And to her credit, she's trying to hit the right side of things, and mostly does."
"But my objection to Monica's approach is that she seems to be looking at all of these fields in isolation, testing each of them independently of the others and earnestly expecting every time for things to be basically good and sensible."
"I'm looking for [Monica] to draw that connection and indict the whole philosophic category of environmentalist ideas with the full disgust and hatred that it deserves. (like, for example, the level of disgust, hatred, and categorical rejection that she gives to religion on her blog)"
"I definitely want to give nothing but kudos to Monica's scientific approach. Good show, there, certainly. But a scientific approach isn't enough - because science is guided by philosophy."
The above are in fact all that I have said in your referenced "above" about you. Notice that I do not make specific claims about your thought processes.
I don't say that you consider most people in environmental fields to be basically good - I said that your writing reads like that. This is a journalistic criticism.
I don't say that you haven't grasped the full evil of environmentalism - I say that it doesn't come across to me from my readings of what you write. That you aren't expressing it as fully in your writing as I would expect of someone who has grasped it.
I don't say anything about your thought process when I say that you "seem to be looking at all these fields in isolation." That's a statement of your actions - you are in fact looking at each of these fields and not in the manner of someone who has condemned the whole movement as utterly rife with rubbish and lies. I provide the advise of looking at it as a connected whole, yes, but that is not a specific statement of what your thoughts or philosophy are.
Finally, I say that I am looking for you to
"indict the whole philosophic category of environmentalist ideas with the full disgust and hatred that it deserves. (like, for example, the level of disgust, hatred, and categorical rejection that give to religion on [your] blog)"
Which I am - in my opinion you don't hate or condemn it enough and that is indeed an evaluation of your thoughts and premises. I can't see how that is a misrepresentation of you, though. No doubt in your opinion you do hate it enough - but that doesn't mean I am misrepresenting you by saying I think you don't hate it enough. This is simply an expression of where we disagree.
Posted by: Inspector at April 17, 2008 10:53 PM (0Q6yO)
As much as I love a fervent discussion in my comments, I really dislike seeing the debate range into a discussion of who misrepresents or misunderstands whom.
It's obvious that there is some kind of long-standing argument going here and some of the objections are to things only implied in the comments above. I am not familiar with nor interested in all the details of that argument so do let's take it somewhere other than my blog.
Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at April 18, 2008 06:04 AM (KApsF)
I don't want an argument - here or anywhere else.
Posted by: Inspector at April 18, 2008 09:47 AM (0Q6yO)
Powered by Minx 1.1.4-pink.